Gulf Coast Oil Operations Worsened Katrina's Impact

<p>Canals dug for oil and natural gas extraction and service may have played a significant role in the weakening of the Mississippi River Delta -- a negative effect of the oil industry's Gulf operations that worsened the impact of Hurricane Katrina.</p>
January 22, 2008, 8am PST | Nate Berg
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"Service canals dug to tap oil and natural gas dart everywhere through the black mangrove shrubs, bird rushes and golden marsh. From the air, they look like a Pac-Man maze superimposed on an estuarine landscape 10 times the size of Grand Canyon National Park."

"There are 10,000 miles of these oil canals. They fed America's thirst for energy, but helped bring its biggest delta to the brink of collapse. They also connect an overlooked set of dots in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath: The role that some say the oil industry played in the $135 billion disaster, the nation's costliest."

"The delta, formed by the accumulation of the Mississippi River's upstream mud over thousands of years, is a shadow of what it was 100 years ago. Since the 1930s, a fifth of the 10,000-square-mile delta has turned into open water, decreasing the delta's economic and ecologic value by as much as $15 billion a year, according to Louisiana State University studies."

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Published on Monday, January 21, 2008 in Associated Press via Wired
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